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Disneyland Article
A Look Back At Matterhorn Bobsleds Submarine Voyage And Monorail On 60th Anniversary Of Disneyland Rides

Orange County Register
Brady Macdonald
June 11, 2019
June 19, 2019
It was 60 years ago this week that the first wave of E-Ticket attractions swept into Disneyland with the debut of Matterhorn Bobsleds, Submarine Voyage and the monorail as the Anaheim theme park underwent its first major expansion in June 1959.

With the help of U.S. vice president Richard Nixon, Disneyland introduced three new attractions on June 14, 1959 that helped usher in the E-Ticket era of the then 4-year-old theme park. The day-long celebration was nationally televised during an ABC special hosted by Art Linkletter.

Disneyland will recognize the 60th anniversaries of the trio of classic attractions on Friday.

Nixon along with his wife, Pat, and their daughters, Tricia and Julie, famously posed for photos during the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Disneyland Monorail.

There were actually two sets of photos taken with the Nixon family next to the monorail. The first photos were taken at 9:15 a.m. for wire services and media outlets on the East Coast with another set taken during the official monorail dedication at 4 p.m.

Over the years, keen-eyed fans have noticed that the Nixon family wore different clothes in the Monorail dedication photos taken throughout the day.

The vice president and his family were feted with a midday parade down Main Street USA complete with an all-brass band featuring 76 trombones.

After a Matterhorn show featuring mountain climbers, the bobsled roller coaster was opened to the press at 3 p.m.

During a 3:30 p.m. ceremony, the Submarine Voyage attraction was dedicated by Admiral Charles C. Kirkpatrick. Mildred Nelson, the wife of the chief machinist on the USS Nautilus nuclear-powered submarine, christened the ride as photographers captured the moment.

The Disneyland Monorail and Submarine Voyage attractions were opened to the press at 4:15 p.m.

Matterhorn Bobsleds

Walt Disney became fascinated with the Matterhorn during the filming of “Third Man on the Mountain” in Zermatt, Switzerland, and began devising a way to incorporate a replica of the famous peak into Disneyland. The ride operator observation deck poking up from the top of the Matterhorn queue building was inspired by Zermatt’s clock tower.

Disneyland’s 147-foot-tall version of the Matterhorn was built to 1/100th scale of the nearly 14,700-foot-tall real mountain. The audio-animatronic abominable snowman was added to the Matterhorn coaster in 1978. The Skyway gondola lift attraction that passed through Disneyland’s Matterhorn mountain closed in 1994.

The landmark ride was the world’s first roller coaster with a tubular steel track and an electronic dispatch system that allowed for more than one car on the track at a time.

Disneyland Monorail

A monorail system was envisioned for Tomorrowland with the 1955 debut of Disneyland, but Disney wasn’t satisfied with the design options at the time. The unique straddle-beam track from Germany’s Alweg Corporation was the perfect solution. Disney loved the monorail’s nearly noiseless operation thanks to a combination of electric propulsion and rubber wheels on the beam.

Disney called the new monorail attraction a “prototype of a rapid transit system which may solve many of the traffic problems of our modern day” in a May 1959 personal letter to Nixon.

The “Highway in the Sky” was the first daily operating monorail system in the Western Hemisphere. The trains on the 8/10-mile beamway around Tomorrowland didn’t take you anywhere until 1961 when the track length more than doubled to incorporate a Disneyland Hotel stop.

The track route was diverted in 1994 to accommodate Indiana Jones Adventure and in 1999 to make room for Disney California Adventure, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Downtown Disney. The latest Mark VII trains first debuted in 2008.

Submarine Voyage

The original Submarine Voyage took riders in stealthy military grey warships under the North Pole where they encountered giant squid, sunken ships and even mermaids.

Disney described the new ride as “a fleet of 8 atomic submarines taking people under water to the world of liquid space” in his letter to Nixon. Disney often boasted that Disneyland had the “eighth-largest submarine fleet in the world.”

After almost four decades of operation, Submarine Voyage went dark for nearly a decade starting in 1998 as the 6.3-million-gallon Tomorrowland lagoon sat unused.

The underwater attraction was brought back in 2007 as the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage with the fleet painted a highly visible bright yellow. The re-imagined ride offered glimpses of Nemo, Marlin, Dory, Crush and other “Finding Nemo” characters from the submarine port windows. The 40-passenger ride vehicles were rechristened research submarines operated by the Nautical Exploration and Marine Observation Institute — or N.E.M.O. Institute.
Attractions Referenced

Disneyland Monorail

Finding Nemo: Submarine Voyage

Indiana Jones Adventure, Temple Of The Forbidden Eye

Matterhorn Bobsleds


Submarine Voyage

Lands Referenced

Main Street U.S.A.

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